Let's Talk about Negative Reviews: My Experiences and Questions for You

Last Update: October 06, 2019

While glowing postive reviews "feel good" to write and don't have as much controversy, as reviewers, there comes a time that you come across a product that doesn't live up to it's claims, and you have to say so.

In this article, I want to discuss my experiences with negative reviews--both good and bad--and, I want to hear about yours.

My Overall Objective with Writing Reviews

While I am an affiliate of various products and services, my overall reason for writing reviews isn't to make money. I don't say that for sentiment. I say that being honest.

I write good reviews for products I'm not an affiliate of, and I write bad reviews for products that could offer me a hefty commission. I try my hardest not to make money slant ratings at all. My main objective is connected to my business mission.

My site is called How to Entrepreneur and my main objective there is to help entrepreneurs grow businesses: from idea to enterprise. With my mission in mind, I write reviews of products and services that could help entrepreneurs to achieve that goal.

The good reviews are for products that I'm confident can help them, and the bad reviews are for products I'm confident will not help them. It can be touchy though.

There are People Behind Good and Bad Products and Services

What I've found from writing reviews is that people create good and bad products. Often times, they aren't able to realistically look at their product or service's accurate positioning in the market.

Some people don't give themself the benefit of the doubt. They may underestimate the value of their product, price low, and not emphasize enough the transformation their product can solve.

On the other hand, some people overemphasize their product. They seem to believe their product or service can do much more than what it can. They may not try to be scammers, but they don't realize their product or service underdelivers or disappoints, so they look that way.

Ideally, a product developer or service designer will create a product that clearly lays out expectations, and they satisfy clients because they deliver what's expected (or more). Unfortunately, what I've found is very common is that there are many overzealous product developers who exaggerate and overemphasize their product, they price too high, and it's necessary for them to get honest feedback to correct this.

The Heart of an Honest Review

In my opinion, the worse negative review to write is reviews that come from an emotional and personal standpoint. Let me explain...

I've written emotional reviews because I was hurt, disappointed, angry, and overall, I wanted others to know about my dissatisfaction, but those aren't as effective as empathetic reviews.

Instead of writing an emotional negative review, I've had much better results from my reviews in terms of conversions, appreciation, and sales when I write reviews from an empathetic viewpoint--concerning myself most with the well-being of the end user.

Let me explain with an example...

Emotional review

"I signed up for Wannabe Affiliate (made up name) a few months ago. It was a horrible program and I spent my last 100 dollars on it, then they didn't deliver what they said."

Empathetic review

"If you're looking at Wannabe Affiliate, it's likely you want to become a successful affiliate marketer. I've been in your shoes, and many others looking into this program have as well. I signed up for Wannabe Affiliate a few months ago and I'll be sharing the facts with you. I'll also be sharing customer experiences (including my own), so you can decide if this program will help you achieve your goals."

Do you see the difference? Some negative reviews are written with the heart of revenge. Some are written with the heart of intimidation. They are intimidated by another program, so they write a negative review to "steal the spotlight".

I'm recommending that negative reviews be written ONLY for low quality or bad products, and they be written from a logical and empathetic standpoint, rather than emotional.

Experiences I've had Resulting from Negative Reviews

I've written negative empathetic reviews and gotten powerful outcomes from them. In every case, the product developer didn't like the negative review, but once they reached out to me and realized, Im not writing the review out of intimidation, revenge, or another emotional standpoint, we've established a different level of respect.

I've been able to talk to product developers and even help them see where their products fall short. I've been able to help improve products by giving advice and as a result of negative reviews, I've had some very interesting experiences!

Not all of my experiences have been positive though. In fact, recently a product developer recently reached out to me, and it hasn't turned into a positive outcome yet. I actually don't know what will happen.

I bought a high ticket program years ago when I was looking to be successful in my author business. I took action on the tasks I was given and didn't see results from it. I walked away very disappointed, feeling like I wasted my money, and took too much blame for the results I got.

After years (and taking the Bootcamp training), I decided, I should share my experience thru a review. I realized the most people signing up for that program likely have similar goals as I had, and I was quite sure others could be disappointed like I was.

I wrote the review, and I got great rankings for many keywords. It's been influencing lots of buying decisions, and the product developer decided to reach out.

He spoke to me in tears. He pulled the religion card and made it seem like writing a negative review isn't "treating others how I would like to be treated". He cried on the phone about how hard he's worked to build his reputation, and I listened. I reassured him that my intention wasn't to damage his reputation. I also clarified that my actions don't contradict my religious stances.

I told him that a negative review on my website is the result of a product that doesn't deliver, and the only way I'd change my review is if the product was improved and would satisfy the end user's buying motives differently than it did for me. Standing my ground hasn't been easy because I heard terms like "lawyers" brought up and sly threats, but I don't believe I'm doing anything wrong.

In closing, writing negative reviews can be eye openers, help customers to make good decisions, and cause product developers to earn better than they ever have (when they correct their mistakes). On the other hand, not all product developers will be humble enough to recieve feedback that's not "optimal" (even when you're constructive in tone).

My Questions for You

Now, I've shared my experience. What's yours?

  • Do you write negative and positive reviews?
  • Do you write emotionally, logically, factually, objectively, or in an opinionated voice? What converts best for you?
  • Have you been approached about your negative reviews? If so, what have you done about it?
  • What would you do if a product developer was threatening to take you to court for a review that disclosed your honest experience with their low quality or underdelivering program?
Join the Discussion
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Recent messages
Carson2 Premium
Great to read your insight.
TDenise Premium
bpais1 Premium
The potential of getting sued is the main reason I don't pursue a MMO website, Tiffany.

Even though I would most certainly approach a negative review with facts - in an empathetic way - concentrating on unemotional facts - based on my experience as well as others who have reviewed the "make money" entity...these negative reviews - no matter how factual - could seriously damage the entity owner's ability to make a living.

They'll sic their lawyer(s) on you and make your life more stressful than you could ever imagine.

Kyle recently recounted a major legal problem that Wealthy Affiliate had been fighting for years in that regard.

I don't need that kind of stress. My goal is to "enjoy" making money with my websites - and not having to worry about the possibility of having to defend my reviews in a court of law.

That being said, I still do some negative reviews of products that visitors to my websites may be interested in. But, the products are consumable "widgets" - and not MMO business entities.

And, my reviews usually compare these inferior products to better quality alternative products in the very same review - using my empathetic approach.

I must say that your "How to Entrepreneur" website idea to show "pros, cons, and alternatives", is a smart way to approach it - but, I think I'll stick with my pedometers, treadmills, etc., on my self-improvement website - and my garden tractors, tillers, etc., on my gardening website.

Just my 2 cents worth...

TDenise Premium
People bring lawyers up for all kinds of things nowadays. I saw the lawsuit Kyle and the team went thru. I’d definitely like to dodge anything similar to that for sure.
HeidiAnders3 Premium
This is great advice! The truth of the matter is, there just isn't any way possible that every single product is perfect. We owe it to others to be transparent and truthful. I appreciate your post here! Thank you! Blessings!
TDenise Premium
I agree!
Joes946 Premium
Have only done a few reviews. Have had a few negative feedbacks but I know I was honest about it and that's all that matters to me.
Great post.
TDenise Premium
Thanks Joe!
Helen123 Premium
I have to be honest, with offering comments here in WA, I don’t offer a comment if I can’t be positive about it. I know that if the comment I make is honest, it’s going to give negative feedback and will not be approved by the owner if the website. So I simply don’t bother. This might seem a defeatist attitude but it bothers me when I have to really work hard to find something positive to say about a site, better to say nothing.